10 years ago, shortly after celebrating my 21st birthday, I found myself sitting in a clinical space with a mental health questionnaire. I was rating how I felt from 1-10, in order to assess my wellness. It was then I was first diagnosed with generalised anxiety and depression.
This was my first introduction to mental health, and it had taken for me to break down to get this diagnosis. This wasn’t a topic ever discussed in school or at home, and I had never once spoken out about the constant state of anxiety I had been waking up with daily. I had been feeling this way for so long that I believed it was just who I was. I didn’t know life could get better.
I continue to learn more about how my mind works and what it needs in order to be healthier. And just as my physical health can sometimes fluctuate, so can my mental health, and that’s okay.
Talking is very important, but so is action. I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for the constant work I do to care for my mental wellbeing. It can be hard work to make changes, especially until it becomes habit, but a happier and calmer life is the reward.
A focus on nutrition saved my life, there’s no question about that. Essentially I measure how different foods make me feel after consuming them. We can read thousands of different studies about which foods are good or bad for us. There are constant changes in opinion too. One minute it’s “spinach cures all ailments” and then it’s “forget what you know, junk food and vodka will make you live forever”. It’s genuinely quite tiresome.
My advice is pay less attention to all these new studies and more attention to how you feel when you’re actually eating. We don’t give our body enough credit for how smart and in tune it actually is. The brain-gut-axis is a medical term, which explains the connection between the gut and the brain. Not only does our brain communicate with our gut, but our gut also talks to our brain. The connection between what we eat and how we feel is important to recognise.
This method of mindful eating is what led me to launch a chocolate brand ( @wellbeanco ) which is more conscious about it’s production. We don’t just taste test, we also assess how we feel after we’ve eaten the products. There have been many extremely tasty recipes we’ve thrown out, because they just didn’t meet our strict “feel well” standards.
It does take more than just watching what we eat to be well, but it shouldn’t be underestimated how important this is. Alongside sharing what’s on our mind, exercise and learning how to manage thoughts and behaviors through things like CBT (cognitive behavior therapy), we can significantly improve our mental wellbeing.
It’s #mentalhealthawarnessweek , a perfect time to speak up about our experiences and share what we’ve learnt along the way.
Because mental wellbeing is so important to us, we donate a percentage of our profits to mental health projects in the UK.